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We controlled what we could

Boss delighted with how his team handled the pressure

27 April 2019

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Neal Ardley says his Notts County side put in an accomplished performance to earn a 2-1 win against Grimsby on Saturday.

Craig Mackail-Smith's second in as many games and a Harry Clifton own-goal fired the Magpies to victory in their final home match of 2018-19 despite Alex Whitmore’s late effort for the Mariners.

The win means Notts’ fight for Sky Bet League Two survival goes down to the final fixture of the season, with Ardley’s side trailing Macclesfield by two points.

The boss wants his side to continue focusing on the things they can influence, though, something he says they did excellently against Grimsby.

“The only thing in our control was to win the game and we did it,” Ardley said.

“The boys handled the pressure brilliantly from start to finish and it was a really accomplished performance – we have to try our best to do the same next week.

“We knew it was the last chance saloon. All we could control was taking this to the last game of the season and we’ve done that.

“In the first 10-15 minutes we didn’t commit enough to attacks but we went on to become the better team.

“The two goals at the start of the second half were the perfect tonic, but we felt a bit disappointed to concede late on because it deserved to finish 2-0.”

Ardley was pleased with the impact of the returning Shaun Brisley on his first start since New Year’s Day.

“He may feel hard done by to have not been involved since I made some changes to the squad in January but he’s come in and been excellent,” said the boss.

“With our options limited at centre back I spoke to him and he said 100 per cent he was up for it and that’s testament to him – he’s come in and put in a faultless performance.

“We worked really hard on set pieces, both offensively and defensively, and they paid dividends today with the deliveries from Jim O’Brien and Michael Doyle absolutely spot on, while Craig Mackail-Smith put in a great performance and got a good goal.”

Despite Notts needing Macclesfield to lose on the final day of the season to give them a realistic chance of survival, Ardley remains upbeat.

“We’ve got something to play for which is all we could have achieved today,” he said. "We were eight points adrift with a much worse goal difference on 1 February, but now we've taken it to the final game.

“I can control the team and the preparation and then we have to go to Swindon on the front foot, believing we can win the match - and then it might just happen.

“Anyone can beat anyone in League Two. We need to win a game and need a team to lose a game – is that a miracle? No.”

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